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What the newspapers say: February 24, 2006

Vineri, 24 februarie 2006, 0:00

Romanian ex-PM Adrian Nastase changes tactics in his war with anti-graft prosecutors, newspapers believe after the current House speaker implicitly admitted yesterday he put pressure on prosecutors when he was in office. In another high-profile scandal, a newspaper publishes the full 12 charges against businessman Dinu Patriciu.

In a telephone interview with a Bucharest-based radio station, ex-PM Adrian Nastase was asked if it was true he stood against the arrest of the then Bucharest mayor Traian Basescu, the current head of state. "I stood against the arrest of any politician and generally against arrests.

I believed… and it’s true, I opposed it", Nastase, who now faces a fierce anti-graft inquiry, answered, as quoted by Romania libera.

His statement sparked a wave of reactions: two top prosecutors admitted they never spoke on phone about various cases, while the head of the PSD party Nastase belongs to, Mircea Geoana, warned "Nastase’s problems are not the party’s problems", according to the newspaper.

For its part, Cotidianul believes the Nastase’s stance these days shows he pleads for President Basescu’s mercy.

And in the same graft case, another newspaper, Gandul, focuses on the alleged death threats against a witness in the case Nastase is charged with corruption.

The paper writes the recipient of the threat, whose identity was not revealed, was an accountant for a PSD official who intermediated the real estate business at the center of the scandal.

Meanwhile, Evenimentul Zilei lists the full 12 charges against businessman Dinu Patriciu, from embezzlement to stock exchange abuses.

And another newspaper controlled by people close to Patriciu, Averea, quotes Liberal leaders who say a possible arrest warrant on the businessman’s name would determine them to reveal a political blackmail in which they are forced to opt between a political merger with the Democrats and Patriciu’s head.

The same Averea writes how a former deputy Interior minister in the 2001-2004 PSD government, Toma Zaharia, managed to boost his wealth substantially within months, as he has partly bought, partly inherited 110 hectares of land in the Dambovita county. That would make him a millionaire, the newspaper considers.

And Evenimentul Zilei writes about the latest move by businessman Adrian Sarbu who controls the Pro TV station. He opted to retain only 10% of the channel and sold another 5% to the majority shareholder, Central European Media Enterprises, for USD 27 million and a management position in a cross-border structure of the CME.

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